In the 1930s, the future of passenger air travel looked bright—if still out of reach for the average New Yorker (a NYC to Europe flight cost $375, or more than five grand in today’s cash!)
To make flying more convenient, the city constructed the Airlines Terminal Building, an appropriately futuristic, Art Deco-inspired structure on 42nd Street in Midtown.
Here, passengers didn’t actually catch their flights but could pick up tickets for any airline serving New York.
The idea was that “you could buy your ticket in town and ride in comfort on a dedicated bus to LaGuardia or Newark airports,” explains citynoise.org.
Of course, LaGuardia Airport wasn’t LaGuardia yet—in 1939, it opened as New York City Municipal Airport, where Pan Am, American, United, Eastern, and an outfit known as Transcontinental & Western Air, aka TWA, flew out of.
Located across the street from Grand Central, it was a wild building, with kind of a space age crown flanked by two eagles on top.
The Airlines Terminal Building outlived its usefulness. It was bulldozed to make room for the headquarters for Phillip Morris, which has occupied the address since the early 1980s.
[Middle photo: MCNY collections; bottom: Citynoise.org]